Chesterton Tribune

 

 

VA tells Coats it can't move body of murderer from national cemetery

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is denying a request to remove an Army veteran's body from a Michigan cemetery, where he was buried with military honors in violation of federal law after killing an Indianapolis woman last year.

Michael LeShawn Anderson was buried in Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Mich., in June 2012 after fatally shooting Alicia Koehl in her office at an Indianapolis apartment complex. Police say he wounded three others before taking his own life.

Koehl's family says Anderson shouldn't have received the honors given other veterans. They want his remains removed from a place meant to honor heroes.

"It's just a continuing cover-up so no one has to take accountability for the (original) mistake," Koehl's father-in-law, Frank Koehl, told The Indianapolis Star Wednesday after learning of the VA's decision.

Police have said Alicia Koehl was shot 13 times and bled to death in her office.

Frank Koehl said the VA has the authority but not the willingness to order the remains exhumed and moved. He cited a 2007 case in which the cremated remains of a double murderer were removed from Arlington National Cemetery.

Congress passed a federal statute outlawing military burials in national cemeteries for those who commit capital crimes in 1997. The law was intended to prevent the body of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, a military veteran, from being buried in a national cemetery.

VA officials have acknowledged that Anderson's burial in a national cemetery violates the law but say the agency lacks the authority to exhume remains in a situation where an ineligible veteran was buried in a national cemetery.

Republican Indiana Sen. Dan Coats said he is working on legislation that would give the agency that authority.

"The victims and family members of this tragic shooting have suffered enough and deserve a resolution to this matter," Coats said in a statement.

 

Posted 7/31/2013